Ruth: Experiencing the real Jesus beyond the religion

Ruth, Australia, Age 36

I grew up in a strong Christian family with 3 sisters and 7 brothers. Every morning and evening we would sing, read the Bible and pray as a family. I believed in Jesus and that he had died on the cross for my sins. In as much as I understood, I committed my life to him and was baptised at the age of 14. However, it was really all just religion to me with no life or spirit to it all.

At 17 I became engaged to a Christian surfer and expected my life to be one of deep love and happiness with him. When my fiance left me two months before the wedding and moved interstate, I was devastated, deeply wounded, humiliated and very confused why God would unjustly allow my future to be destroyed. I prayed and hoped every day for six months for his return, but slowly realised that the relationship was over.

I soon moved out of home, started working at a casino, partying hard and getting into drugs and alcohol. I kept going through relationships in a desperate attempt to find love. During this time I met up with an artist and, after about 8 months with him, fell pregnant.

Though I was terrified to tell my parents, they received me gladly after I told them I wanted to be a Christian again. Three months later my partner and I got married, and I had a beautiful baby girl at the age of 20.

However, married life was difficult. I struggled to live a moral Christian life while my husband, our bohemian friends and our lifestyle kept drawing me back to drugs and alcohol. The high expectations I had of my husband as well as my jealousy led to bitterness and anger between us. It eventually became intolerable and finally caused his heart to grow cold toward me. After two years he left and moved interstate.

I was abandoned again, but this time it was partly my fault. I always blamed God for my troubles and then ignored him, but I finally realised my own weaknesses. I could not live the Christian life and do what was right because I had no power over the things I did and said, and I kept damaging myself and those around me. I was guilty, grief-stricken, hopeless and alone with a young child. Physical, emotional, and mental pain overwhelmed me. One night full of weeping I remember screaming desperately into my pillow, “JESUS!”

Suddenly I knew Jesus had heard me and was with me and that the desperation left though nothing circumstantial had changed. I believe at that moment I was born again by the Spirit of God (see John 3:3-7 and 1 Peter 1:23 ). I felt flooded with a security, a safety and a love that I had never felt before in my entire life.

I knew I was loved, saved, and washed clean from my sins and guilt. I knew beyond a doubt that I was going to be alright because of Jesus and that I could cope whether or not my husband returned. I realised the amazing thing was, all those things were just freely given to me by God through his son, Jesus, and that I had not and could not earn them. The approval I had always sought, the love that I had always desired was there for me, and it was bestowed and made real to me when I was at my worst, ugliest, useless and most desperate state!

My life was completely changed. I became overwhelmed by Jesus’ love. The alcohol, drugs and partying didn’t have the attraction they once had to me, I had something else that surpassed it: Jesus and his amazing Word (the Bible), which came alive to me. I suddenly understood things in it that I had only had knowledge of from my Christian upbringing. Instead of being religious and dead, they became alive and spiritual and began to nurture my soul. Three months later my husband returned and we got back together and had another 2 girls.

We have now been married sixteen years and though we have had other extreme difficulties, it is only by God’s grace and mercy that we have survived. My husband has recently been baptised and we have had two energetic twin boys. Praise Jesus for his awesome love, his healing and his restoration!